With polls projecting large gains for eurosceptic parties from Italy to Central and Eastern Europe (most notably Hungary and Poland) in the upcoming European Parliamentary Election, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party on Wednesday were officially suspended from the largest center-right group in the EU Parliament - setting the stage for a complete break between the center-right and the anti-establishment eurosceptics.
The suspension is the culmination of a long-running feud between Orban and Manfred Weber, the group's candidate to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the European Commission. Participating MEPs voted almost unanimously in favor of a suspension.
#Fidesz will be suspended with immediate effect and until further notice following today’s vote of EPP members (190 in favour, 3 against). The suspension entails:— Joseph Daul (@JosephDaul) March 20, 2019
▪No attendance at any party meeting
▪No voting rights
▪No right to propose candidates for posts
Details of the suspension leaked ahead of the vote. It will involve Fidesz losing all participatory rights in the group while the EPP prepares a final report on Orban's alleged transgressions.
Fidesz aroused the anger of its fellow EPP members, Weber in particular, with anti-EU and anti-Soros billboard campaigns, which Fidesz adopted in the run-up to its most recent landslide electoral victory. Orban's comments calling Germany's Christian Democrats, fellow coalition members, "useful idiots" for their left-wing opponents also angered the bloc (though Orban apologized for that comment), as have Hungary's passage of laws to crack down on foreign NGOs, which helped push the Soros-founded Central European University, as well as Soros' Open Society Foundation, out of the country. The EPP also accused Fidesz of fear-mongering and peddling false narratives for the party's own political ends.
Orban had threatened to quit the group if his party were suspended. While no decision has yet been made on that front, it's looking increasingly likely that Fidesz and other eurosceptics will band together to form a coalition of their own after the May parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, Europe's efforts to shun Orban over his efforts to build a nationalistic "illiberal democracy" will almost certainly continue.